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The Prince's meeting with the Countess

The 2ft-6in gauged Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway was the host to a Royal visitor when Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales visited the line to join in on the line’s centenary celebrations as part of his Welsh tour. This in not the Prince of Wales first visit to this Welsh narrow gauge railway, he opened the footbridge at Llanfair Caerinion 12 years ago in 1990, when he expressed a wish to ride on the railway. He returned on Friday 19th July to realise this ambition. After unveiling a plaque to commemorate his visit to the railway, he boarded train, hauled by Beyer, Peacock 0-6-0T No.2 ‘Countess’ carrying a special huge headboard featuring the Prince of Wales feathers, for the trip to Welshpool’s Raven Square. The Royal train stopped at the disused Golfa Halt to allow the Prince to take over the controls of the ‘Countess’, which was running bunker first. He drove the train some distance towards Welshpool as far as the bottom of the 1 in 19 Golfa Bank, when for safety reasons, Driver Simon Bowden took over the controls for the rest of the journey to Raven Square. Meanwhile, following the Royal theme, the latest on the return of the ex-Bowater’s Paper Mill Bagnall 0-4-4-0T locomotive ‘Monarch’ to Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway from the Ffestiniog Railway is still ‘imminent’. ‘Monarch’, built in 1953, is the last of a class of seven Meyer articulated locomotives, and the last narrow gauge steam locomotive built for British industry. The engine was sold on to the WLLR in 1966, and was used in service on the line until 1970s. Since then, ‘Monarch’ was sold to private owners in 1992 and subsequently donated to Ffestiniog Railway for possible conversion to 2ft gauge and use on Welsh Highland Railway. However, WLLR members are in negations with FR to buy back ‘Monarch’ and donate the locomotive to the WLLR company. The engine is currently in a dismantled state at the FR’s Boston Lodge.

Posted by David Lloyd-Jones on

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